Film Review – Truth Or Dare (2018)

In what is one of this year’s most crashingly obvious pieces of timing, Blumhouse has chosen to release its latest horror, Truth Or Dare, on Friday, 13th.  It’s hardly original, but it also tells you something about the film.  It needs all the help it can get.

Blumhouse, on the other hand, seems supremely confident of its success, to the extent that it’s stuck its name above the title, so it’s actually Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare.  Horror fans will know the name from the likes of Ouija and Ouija:Origin Of Evil and, having exhausted the horror potential of one teenage sleepover game, they’ve moved on to another.  This time a group of friends venture south of the border for a holiday.  One of them, Olivia (Lucy Hale) meets a friendly stranger in a bar and he suggests they, with all her friends, go off to an abandoned mission for a game of truth or dare.  But the game isn’t just any old game, and the friends find themselves locked into it.  Worse still, they’re also being picked off, one by one.

One look at that mission building and you know things just aren’t going to turn out well.  Apart its traditional bell tower, it looks remarkably like any other sinister deserted building from any other horror movie.  The game in question isn’t just nasty, it also follows the friends back home and essentially stalks them.  Those three little words are sent by text, painted on walls as lurid graffiti, burned into somebody’s arm and keyed into the paintwork on Olivia’s car.  And, most frequently, spoken by other people, but with their faces warped into hideous grins that look like budget versions of Batman’s Joker.  They look like they’ve been run through one of those online photo filters.  In other words, they’re cheap – which is just how the film looks.  The couple supposedly standing on Westminster Bridge towards the end of the movie is especially bargain basement.

This being all about teenagers, phones, laptops and the internet all play their part.  Back home after the holiday, it takes Olivia some time to convince her friends that they’re all locked into this game.  Even the death of Ronnie (Sam Lerner), who is desperate to be part of the group, doesn’t convince everybody straight away.  So the smart thing to do is look up Mexico Truth Or Dare on Google, isn’t it?  Of course it is!  And when they need to track down somebody else who was involved in the game before them, where to they look?  Facebook.  Where else?  It really is as silly as that.

But Truth Or Dare has bigger problems than looking cheap or having a ridiculous storyline.  As one of the characters says early on “this doesn’t look very scary.”  They’re not kidding.  If a film bills itself as a horror, you expect to be frightened to some extent.  Yet there’s little in the way of shocks, even less in the way of surprises and essentially zero entertainment value.  It’s tedious to the point of boring and had an audible effect on one of the journos at the press screening. The sound of snoring rang out for all to hear.

It’s only a couple of weeks since we saw how good a horror film can be.  A Quiet Place took a simple idea, executed it perfectly and gave audiences the fright of their lives wrapped up in an excellent piece of film making.  Truth Or Dare does the opposite.  Truth? It’s Dire.

Freda Cooper | [rating=1]
Horror, Thriller | 15 | UK, 13 April (2018) | Universal Pictures | Dir. Jeff Wadlow| Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerard Funk and Sam Lerner.